A lot of people may look at Sunday night's New York Mets loss and see a failure. In one way, sure, it is. But in another, this season was a huge success for the boys from Flushing. In preseason polls, the Mets were constantly looked over for the apparent juggernaut in their division, the Washington Nationals. But, after going 11-8 against the Nationals this season, it was the Mets that took the NL East crown and took their second-half momentum all the way to the World Series.
It may not have gone the way some fans wanted, however, the Royals bounced back from their 2014 World Series loss by winning it all in 2015. Are the Mets in a position to make a similar push?
Where they stand: 2016 payroll obligations
According to Baseball-Reference, the Mets' projected payroll obligations for the 2016 campaign will be near $109 million. David Wright represents the largest dollar commitment and will receive $20 million next season. After being diagnosed with spinal stenosis earlier in 2015, Captain America was able to make it back and contribute to the Mets success in a big way, hitting .280/.385/.452 with three home runs in the final month of the regular season. Curtis Granderson is also a fairly large commitment at $16 million in 2016.
Other than that, Michael Cuddyer will be due $12.5 million, Jon Niese is due $9 million, and Juan Lagares will earn $2.5 million. That's it. The Mets have five people under contract going into 2016. All together those five will be worth $60 million. That isn't necessarily a bad thing though, depending on their arbitration arrangements.
Other payroll obligations: Arbitration
The Mets have Addison Reed, Lucas Duda, Jenrry Mejia, Ruben Tejada, Eric Young Jr., Buddy Carlyle, Matt Harvey, Carlos Torres, Jeurys Familia, Josh Edgin, and Anthony Recker all going to arbitration. Of those 11 players, only Young and Carlyle are in their final years of arbitration. Neither should be difficult to if the Mets see the value in doing so. Carlyle is going into his age 38 season though and underwent hip surgery back in July. Young, who is usually seen as a fairly elite base-runner, only stole three bases in his five attempts with the Mets.
Sandy Alderson will have a lot of decisions to make when it comes to his arbitration-eligible players. Duda has only two years of arbitration remaining and has proved his worth over the past two seasons. Harvey, a Scott Boras client, will likely go to arbitration, but there's little question that Alderson will be trying to figure out a long-term plan. Especially with his pitching depth.
That being said, the wealth of pitching was there last offseason too, and the depth ended up paying off when both Niese and Zack Wheeler ended up getting injured. As far as problems go, 'too many pitchers' ranks as a pretty good one to have.
Pending free agents
Yoenis Cespedes, Bartolo Colon, Juan Uribe, Tyler Clippard, Daniel Murphy, Eric O'Flaherty, Bobby Parnell, Jerry Blevins, and Kelly Johnson will all be eligible for free agency this Friday. Colon, who posted yet another strong season in 2015, is 42 years old and, with the Mets rotation getting crowded, they could let him walk this winter.
Much has already been made of Murphy's pending free agency. With a strong showing in the postseason, Murphy could have many potential suitors this offseason. However, those suitors could dwindle if, in the off chance, Murphy gets a qualifying offer from the Mets. That comes with an awful lot of variables to both sides though.
As for Cespedes, it has become more clear over the past few days that the Mets will be out of the running for his services going forward. It's a strange turn of events for New York, but with the arrival of rookie Michael Conforto perhaps it makes sense, since Juan Lagares and Curtis Granderson can round out the outfield. The bidding for Cespedes could get quite steep as well and the Mets could be better served using that money on a different bat.
Conforto and left-handed pitcher Steven Matz graduated from the Mets system this year and should play important roles in 2016. A possible 2016 graduate, Brandon Nimmo, may be influencing Alderson's decision on Cespedes. The No. 71 prospect in baseball according to MLB.com, scouts consider Nimmo's hit tool to be his best. He had a wRC+ of 121 in his first taste of Triple-A, which lasted 32 games this season. Throughout his minor-league career, Nimmo's strikeout rate has dropped significantly, from 24.3 percent at Low-A in 2012 to just 17.9 percent in his Triple-A stint in 2015. If his plate discipline continues to progress, Nimmo could find himself with the big club as early as next season.
Shortstop Gavin Cecchini could be another prospect to crack the roster in 2016. The 21-year-old spent this season at Double-A and has seemingly hit a rhythm after dealing with some injuries slowing his development. When Cecchini has been in the lineup he has been irreplaceable. With their lack of depth in middle infield, the Mets could need his help sooner than they require Nimmo's.
Where do the Mets go from here?
After taking everything in, there doesn't seem to be a reason that the Mets could not follow in the Royals footsteps and follow up a World Series loss with a World Series win. The team's rotation of Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Harvey, Matz, and Wheeler looks to be among the best in baseball. In his short stint in the bigs, Conforto seems like the real deal, and there are several other major-league ready prospects knocking at the door. Some offense and some bullpen help should probably be on Alderson's agenda but many other general managers would trade their problems for his. The Mets are in good shape.